We at RacingAroundJersey.com do our best to promote great racing events within the Garden State. But every once in awhile an event comes along outside of our borders that is just so great we need to cover it here. This weekend's "Freedom 76" at Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania is one of those events on steroids.
First of all, Grandview Speedway is a first-class facility which presents some of the best dirt track racing in the Northeast on a weekly basis. It is a NASCAR sanctioned speedway that is run very professionally, yet still maintains that great local atmosphere.
The "Freedom 76" is their biggest event of the season. One that not only draws many of the New Jersey based race teams to compete in this prestigious event, but many of the NJ race fans as well. In fact, the two dirt tracks in the state don't even try to stage races involving their headline divisions out of respect for this event. Bridgeport Speedway has chosen to run a Sunday show, and New Egypt Speedway, while racing on it's normal Saturday night, will have a much watered-down event this week. You can check each track's respective pages on this site for more details.
So what makes the "Freedom 76" so great? First of all, it is much more than a race, it is an event. Fans start arriving early in the morning on Saturday for a race night that doesn't start until 7pm. The tailgating in the parking lot rivals that of any NFL game. As the parking lot fills with cars from several states, and Canada, the anticipation for the night's action grows. The fans that come to Grandview on this weekend are the most diehard local racing fans you will find anywhere, willing to travel hundreds of miles to support their favorite driver.
And they have good reason to. The "Freedom 76", in it's 44th year, is a 76-lap race which pays $25,000 to win, and attracts the greatest dirt racing talent, perhaps in the country, to Pennsylvania to compete head-to head. There may not be any other event, anywhere, with more track champions in it's starting field than this race. Last year's race saw more than 70 drivers try to make the field.
New Jersey will be well represented at Grandview this weekend as most of the top teams which compete here weekly will be making the trip. Among those expected to try to bring the big purse back home are newly crowned New Egypt Speedway Champion Ryan Godown, both Billy Pauch Sr., and Billy Pauch Jr., Jimmy Blewett, Jimmy Horton, Ryan Watt, and many more.
Also expected to compete are Rick Laubach, Keith Hoffman, Craig VanDohren, Doug Manmiller, Jeff Strunk, Danny Johnson, and Duane Howard, to just name a few.
In 2014, Grandview has decided to make the "Freedom 76" a true weekend event with the addition of a Friday night show. Friday's schedule will include a Race of Champions Sportsman 38-lap feature, which pays $1,500 to win, and an American Racing Drivers wingless Midgets 25-lap feature.
Spectator gates open at 5:30pm for the Friday night show with adult admission only $12. There will also be advance seating tickets for the "Freedom 76" event on sale until intermission. These tickets will allow fans to enter the track at 3pm on Saturday to claim a good seat for the big event. Grandview Speedway will not allow fans of the Friday night show to leave blankets behind to save spots for Saturday.
The Saturday portion of the show will not only feature the 76-lap main event, but also the Schaeffer Motorsports Minuteman 20, a last chance race to make the main , and a $1,000 Cash Dash for the night's top performers.
This is truly a dream weekend for any dirt racing fan, and one that should be experienced at least once, even if it's not in Jersey. Just be aware this event draws a large crowd so make sure you arrive at the speedway early.
For more details go to the Grandview Speedway website.
Grandview Speedway Top-5 Results for Friday 9/12
1) Brandon Bright
2) Billy Pauch Jr.
3) Ryan Watt
4) Tim Buckwalter
5) Trevor Kobylarz
1) Jared Umbenhauer
2) Paul Kline
3) Kenny Gilmore
4) Steve Davis
5) Claude Hutchings Jr.
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